Kelly told Bearcat players he was leaving in a meeting after the team banquet Thursday night.
"He went for that money, that wasn't no time for me to be in there," said receiver Mardy Gilyard, who walked out of the meeting a minute after it started.
"I don't want to hear it. I'm thoroughly disgusted with this situation, that it lasted this long. I heard everything I needed to hear, and that was, 'I accepted the Notre Dame job.' "
Kelly secretly met with Notre Dame officials last week before the Bearcats' game against Pittsburgh and he told his players they would be the first to know if he decided to make the move to South Bend. As it turned out, they were among the last to know.
Gilyard first got the news from a friend who texted him before the banquet.
"I feel like there was a little lying in this thing, I feel like he's known the whole time. I kind of had a gut feeling that he was going to stay because he told me he was going to be here. But it is what it is. He made a business decision."
Tight end Ben Guidugli said: "We don't really care what he has to say anymore. He can go talk to his Notre Dame team."
Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty wrote: "You can feel spurned and angry and cry about the farce that is a college coaching contract. (If you're hissed, think about Kelly's players, who didn't know what was going on until they got to the team banquet Thursday night.)
"What a lousy last chapter to a best-selling book. Only the epilogue remains, in the Sugar Bowl, with an interim coach to be named.
"There is no easy way to do this. It's like calling off a wedding."